How To Burn Wood in Fireplace

The Keys to Safe and Successful Wood Burning



Understanding how to burn wood in a fireplace can significantly reduce energy consumption. If you were asked how to start a fire in your stove, you may have said to throw the logs in and match. However scientifically speaking, there are ways to burn wood which could efficiently heat your home. Plus a clean wood burning exercise will extend your wood burning fireplace or stove life.  These steps are intended to help you plan and use your wood burning system in the safest, cleanest and most effective way.

The keys to safe and successful wood burning are good planning:

When Selecting a Wood Burning:

  • Carefully selecting the right size of wood burning fireplace or stove for your home’s heating needs and place it in the main living area to make the best use of the heat it produces.
  • Any new stove or fireplace should be professionally installed.
  • The best way to reduce wood smoke is by using a high efficiency wood stove or fireplace, certified low emission by the EPA. Used properly, these products cut emission by up to 90%, and you will see virtually no smoke coming from your chimney.
  • More efficient than conventional models, high efficiency wood fireplaces and wood stoves use up to one third less wood – meaning less smoke, less work and hearty cost energy savings.

How to Burn Wood in Fireplace:

  • Make a fire hot and small. Feed it regularly with split wood and never let it smoulder. A smouldering fire creates more smoke.
  • Don’t overload your stove or fireplace. Air should move around inside for a cleaner burn.
  • Burn dry, well-seasoned wood that has been split properly. Green wood produces unhealthy smoke because it is too wet.
  • Burning garbage, plastic, particleboard, plywood or any other painted or treated wood releases a toxic cloud of chemicals and creosote – don’t toss these items into your wood burning fireplace or stove.
  • Be sure your home is energy efficient by insulating walls, caulking windows and repairing weatherstripping around the doors. Don’t let your heat slip through the cracks!

Safe Wood Burning Habits:

  • The best way to start your fire is with newspaper and dry kindling.  Keep untreated none coloured papers handy to start your wood burning fireplace. Never try to get a braze roaring with gasoline, kerosene or charcoal starter – you will get more firepower than you bargained for.
  • Remove ashes from your stove or fireplace regularly and store them in the covered metal container in a safe area away from the side of your house. The sparks in hot ashes can easily start fires.
  • Keep all household items – drapes, furniture, newspaper and books – away from the heat and stray sparks of your wood stove or fireplace.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms, are required by the National Fire Code of Canada, and keep a fire extinguisher nearby.
  • You should never smell smoke in your house. If you do it usually means your wood stove or fireplace systems isn’t venting properly – perhaps the chimney is blocked, a damper is faulty or the fireplace is competing with your range hood. Not only are these fire hazards, but they could also lead to deadly carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Inspect and clean your fireplace at least once a year by a technician certified under the Wood Energy Technical Training (WETT) program or, in Quebec, the Association des professionnels du chauffage.
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